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The Wave – Post Mortem

November 4th, 2010 by Kevin

Election night I was at the MN GOP HQ until 4 AM following the latest results pouring in, absorbing ever rumor and theory, and enjoying the heck out of myself so much that it was a shock when I looked at a clock. I\’ve always found Election Night fun. This year I had obvious reasons for that, with running a campaign and being much more plugged in in general. But also just the novelty of it, that huge numbers of seats can change possession and nobody has to so much as get punched in the head….or at least not out of malice. I know a certain Legislative Assistant whose exuberant celebration darn near caused bodily injury to innocent bystanders. :)

But I\’ve also said that politics is like a soap opera on a massive scale. There is the surface drama even the casual observer sees. Then there are the undercurrents and connecting strategy that political wonks see. And then there are the personality conflicts and caucuses within caucuses within caucuses that political insiders get to see. That last part it\’s a good thing that voters never see or else nobody would even vote again, for fear of encouraging politicians.

End result is you have a fascinating tapestry of events, intention actions, strokes of luck (good or bad) and sheer chance. Which always leaves me with a million threads of thought floating around in my head.

\"\" My US Senate Predictions
Yeah, I was a little off, although the final total will be damn close. Two of my leaners failed to…well lean. Nevada and Colorado. Colorado was darn close and Nevada was….well less close. Whether that was due to casino owners threatening their workers to get them to vote for Reid, it\’s hard to say but end result is the same. Either way, the end result is the same, Democrats hold the Senate but Republicans greatly increase their minority….which is basically what I\’ve been saying all along. And it\’s also what I\’ve said strategically we should hope for, which brings us to….

\"\" The Setup for 2012
The good part is that the bleeding will probably stop…or at least it better (more on that later). Any budgetary legislation has to originate in the House and Republicans now hold a very large majority in the House. And with a large minority in the Senate, cloture because a real obstacle for Democrats. Democrats either have to take a hard right turn to the center or else Congress comes to a standstill for 2 years. Of course that wouldn\’t necessarily be bad.

But it also means not much is likely to improve. We\’ll essentially be in the same place. Obama has made it clear he has no intention of deviating from the course that was overwhelmingly rejected by voters on Tuesday. And it\’s not hyperbole to say \”overwhelmingly\”. We just saw a reversal in electoral results that hasn\’t been in 70 years. Obama likes to claim everything he does is \”historic\”…well this truly was!

So while Republicans may stop the bleeding with their mere presence, as long as Obama plays hardball nothing much happens. Which means we\’re still in the same place in 2012. It also means Obama\’s popularity is not likely to crawl out of the basement. And with Democrats still controlling the Senate and the White House, the overall Democrat brand isn\’t likely to recover much either.

And thanks to their big electoral success in 2006, Democrats hold a large majority of the Senate seats up for grabs in 2012. All told there are 21 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 2 Independents up for election in the Senate. Of those 10 Republicans, only Scott Brown of Massachusetts can be said to be truly vulnerable. Meanwhile Democrats have at least half a dozen seats that are in red or purple states. Those seats alone would give Republicans a majority. Another Republican wave like we just had? You got a cloture-proof majority.

Sounds great right?? Well….

\"\" Don\’t Get Cocky GOP
This probably needs to be said again….Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

And again….Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Actually let\’s make that a habit, because Republicans have been here before, and they\’ve screwed it up before. This election was not a vote FOR Republicans. Rather it was people voting AGAINST the Democrats, specifically their overspending and their focus on every issue other than what\’s most important to people right now….the economy.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Republicans campaigned against the excesses of the Obama and Democrat agenda and the public ate it up. So by all means follow through on that. Defund ObamaCare. Stop the government take over of private industry. Roll back spending. Reduce Taxes. Recover whatever stimulus funds can be found. By all means beat back the progressive horde.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

But that\’s not enough. The public is also frustrated that when Democrats said they\’d help with the economy they focused on health care, Cash for Clunkers, Cap&Trade, immigration, gays in the military…..everything BUT jobs and the economy. So Republicans also need to find a way to address the economy and do it in a way that Obama and the Democrats are forced to go along with it out of fear of further voter backlash. Either that or Republicans need to do a damn good job of showing an effort because the public is tired of promises and talk.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Although there are signs that the GOP understand this…and oddly enough it was Michael Steele that framed it best by pointing out Republicans are \”on probation\”. Sure they overwhelmingly put you in power, but your approval ratings are just as low as the Democrats. The public is willing to tolerate your majority for an election cycle. If you screw up a again, you\’re even further in the doghouse.

Don\’t Get Cocky GOP.

Speaking of don\’t get cocky…..

\"\" Tea Party – Practice Had Better Make Perfect
>First of all calm down, this will only hurt for a minute and it\’s for your own good, besides your treat is next.

Tea Party, you need to learn a few lessons from this election. Let\’s call them Exhibits B.itch and C.hristine O\’Donnell. You need to do some better quality control on your candidates (like I said, your praise is coming later). Deleware is a perfect example. It\’s a hard left state, running a hard right candidate is just not going to fly. Trust me, I dislike RINOs just as much as anyone, and sometimes yeah, it\’s worth drawing a line in the sand and beyond this you will not cross.

But dammit, if you\’re going to pick a hill to die upon, may I suggest aiming more for Mt. Everest, or even Mt. Rainer instead of Joe\’s Ant Farm. Was Castle a squish, absolutely, nobody is denying that and nobody wasn\’t annoyed by it. But on the big issues, the ones that REALLY mattered he would have voted with Republicans. In a hard-left state, that\’s all you can ask for.

And in Nevada, make sure your candidates can better articulate their views and positions. Angle was very Obama-like in that while she did good on script, put her in front of a crowd or dealing with non-screened questions and it wasn\’t always pretty. Nevada was looking for someone to replace Reid, and you gave them nothing they could hang their hat on.

Electability matters. And no not at the expense of everything else, there are certain hills worth dying upon. Cap&Trade? Immigration? Taxes?? Spending?? Abortion?? Sure for some people those are hills they are willing to die for. Others not so much. But end result is you need to work on screening your candidates better.

Which isn\’t to say it was all bad…

\"\" Tea Party – Now Who\’s Laughing?
See I told you it would only hurt for a minute.

All that said, the Tea Party actually did a fairly good job overall picking candidates, a few rotten apples aside. Rand Paul in Kentucky, Marco Rubio in Florida, Mike Lee in Utah, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Scott Brown in Massachusetts. All solid candidates. I was a little concerned about Rand Paul, but while his views may have been more hard-right than his state, he also had the presence and maturity as a candidate to keep them largely in check.

What\’s more you\’ve proven that you\’re not the disorganized rabble of random angry racist hicks the Democrats tried to frame you as. You\’ve a genuine national movement, with a rationale agenda, and with the ability to organize, focus and accomplish a goal, all without a leadership structure of any sort. In fact, that last part is your best feature, rather than a big. It innoculates you against the Alinsky tactics of the left, \”pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it\”. Trying to do that to a diverse group without structure and without a leader, is like trying to kill a swarm of gnats with a rifle.

Now your next goal is to prove you can continue to pursue your agenda without being co-opted by the Republican Party. The Republicans are just as prone to excess and Spineless Syndrome as the Democrats so don\’t get caught up in the system. You\’ve accomplished a real political force here. Don\’t waste it.

Speaking of the system…

\"\" Redistricting
It\’s about to change….drastically. Not only did Republicans make huge progress in the US House and Senate, they also captured 680 seats in state legislatures. Which is darn near un-precedented. That\’s great right!? But why is it important? Well, as you know the 2010 Census is completed which means 2012 brings….redistricting. All those political districts have to be redrawn to account for population changes. And depending on how those lines are drawn determines how easy it is for a Republican or Democrat to win and hold a particular seat. So if you control the process of drawing those lines, you can make it very difficult for the opposition for the next ten years. It\’s called gerrymandering.

So again why is that important?? Well it\’s the state legislatures that do that. And Republicans took over 18 state legislative chambers on Tuesday and gained six governor seats. In fact, for 17 states Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the Governor\’s seat, which puts them in complete control of drawing the lines.

And those 17 states represent 196 of the House\’s 435 districts. In comparison, Democrats control all three legs of the government in up to 10 states, which control at most 88 seats, but possibly as few as 26.

Oh it gets better. Six states have nonpartisan redistricting commissions. If you take those 88 seats out, for 196 out of 347 districts, Republican\’s completely control the drawing of the lines.

In the other states, like Minnesota, a mixed legislature means the judicial system is likely to draw the lines.

Speaking of Minnesota…

\"\" DFL\’s Bed Not So Comfy
For the first time since the Minnesota Senate allowed partisan designations, Republicans control the Senate. And the Minnesota House is now also Republican controlled. In both cases, with seats to spare.

The Governor\’s seats is still up for grabs. If it\’s Emmer than Republicans control all three legs and they get run of the board. But even if it\’s Dayton, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, his agenda is a dead stick. But it gets worse for DFL and they have only themselves to blame.

Last session we had the opposite situation, a DFL legislature with a GOP Governor. When the DFL couldn\’t come up with a budget they simply passed an unreasonable one and adjourned and made it Pawlenty\’s problem. Pawlenty in turn used unallotment. Well the DFL collectively wet themselves and through the courts made sure that couldn\’t be done ever again. So now facing a $6 billion deficit, what are Dayton\’s options?? Either he agrees to the Republican\’s version of a budget, thereby pissing off his base and making the right happy. Or he shuts down the government and calls the legislature into a special session, thereby pissing off his base and mildly annoying the right. The Legislature in turn, if they really want to play hardball can just keep passing the same budget until Dayton relents. After all, what is Dayton\’s recourse??? Bitch to the media that the legislature won\’t raise taxes??? Yeah, that\’ll get sympathy from the public.

And so we begin this political drama all over again. I got my chair, I got my popcorn, start the show!


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T-1 Senate Update

November 1st, 2010 by Kevin

Ok we have a day left before the election.  Republicans are all but certain to take the House, and predictions are by increasingly large numbers.  Are both houses of Congress likely to flip to Republicans, or does the House become Great Firewall of Washington DC?  We\’ll find out on Election Day, but until then we get to play the guessing game.

Does your guesstimate match mine?? Let\’s find out….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Ohio (R), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Connecticut (D), Delaware (D), Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Gillibrand), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

California (D) – Fiorina (D) has closed even further on Boxer (D) making this effectively a dead-heat. I have my doubts that it\’s going to be enough.  Although, if this seat flips it won\’t be surprise.  By the time we start getting results here, it will be clear the Republican wave has reached tsunami-like proportions, and in fact early evidence of that may very well influence voters in this race.  I\’m still sticking with my current classification, but only by the slimmest of margins.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Another close race on the West Coast but this won\’t be impacted by early reports of a Republican tsunami, as effectively voting is already over in Washington.  Most locations vote by mail so most have already cast their ballots.  Did Rossi\’s (R) momentum come in time?? Or will Murray (D) have braved the margins.  It\’ll be close regardless but I see Murray sticking this one out.  Leaning Democrat retention.

West Virginia (D) – Well shit….Raese (R) has held a very small lead over Manchin (D) for awhile now.  Now out of the blue comes….well the blue candidate.  Surging at the last minute to a lead is Manchin, who may very well be moving out of the Governors mansion and into an apartment in DC.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) –  Don\’t make too much of Obama\’s rally.  While this race is so close, it hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 8 months, it\’s also been notable for having an extremely low number of undecided voters.  Illinois voters have long since decided who they want, they just haven\’t been overly keen on sharing it with the rest of us.  While it\’s obvious that voters don\’t like either candidate, Kirk has held a lead, albeit statistically insignificant, for awhile now.  I suspect there is something to that and Obama\’s former seat will be one of the cornerstones of that Republican wave.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – It\’s hard to think it\’s just coincidence that over the span of the last seven days, three different polling agencies, have generated that EXACT same results….Angle 49, Reid 45.  I think that pretty much tells the story there and I see no reason to argue with Nevada voters.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Whew!  Well that was close.  Buck (R) seems to have weathered his little screw-up and now hold a slight lead over Bennett (D) again.  This still comes down to turnout but in this climate that also favors Buck.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – This has tightened up lately but Toomey (R) appears to have stabilized his lead over Sestak (D).  Turnout will be key but I think Toomey has this in the bag.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – This state has causes a lot of Republicans to collectively wet themselves these part couple days.  Murkowski (I) is suddenly polling neck and neck with Miller (R).  And McAdams (D) is now gaining support.  However, I\’m sticking to my guns here.  Murkowski is running a write-in campaign so there\’s that, plus she doesn\’t exactly have an easy name to spell. I still think Miller has got this one.  Leaning Republican retention.

Wisconsin (D) – With even the White House giving up on this seat, this is all but a safe Republican seat now.  Feingold (D) is out, Johnson (R) is in.  Sounds good to me!  Likely Republican takeover.

Kentucky (R) – Game. Set. Match.  Paul (R) has got this.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Blunt (R) over Carnahan (D).  Done deal.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not even close.  Ayotte (R) over Hodes (D).  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Rubio (R) has it.  Even if every Meeks (D) voter jumped to Crist (I), Crist would still lose.  And with the shenanigans Crist has played, he deserves to lose.  I can\’t believe there is a single voter in Florida even considering voting for Crist??? If Crist doesn\’t come in dead last I call a pox on all of Florida and offer it up for sale to Cuba.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

\"\"

My past predictions were 49, 48, 48, 47, 47, 48, 49 and 50 and now I\’m predicting 49.  On the plus side, I\’m no longer uncomfortable about calling Illinois and Colorado for Republicans.  On the other hand, West Virginia took a hard left turn ended up in Olbermann, Obamaland.  So the road to majority got a little tougher.  Normally I\’d say West Virginia needs to be recalled from it\’s AWOL status and then either Washington or California need to be flipped.  However, oddly enough, the West Virginia part of that seems to be the toughest part.  So the most realistic route is probably flipping both California and Washington.

With both Washington and California on the West Coast, the potential Republican tsunami has acquired stealth ability.  You\’re not going to see it until it\’s on top of you dropping the R-Bomb all over the place.  Although if West Virgina surprises and goes Republican, the West Coast may as well start heading to higher ground, as that Republican tsunami may very well have a Slurpee-sipping Godzilla surfing on it.  I\’m going to stop there as I don\’t dare stretch this metaphor any further.

And I continue in my belief that strategically we don\’t want Republicans to get to 51.  We\’re not going to accomplish anything with 51 we can\’t accomplish with 49.  In both cases, the Senate is effectively closed for 2 years.  And with Republicans controlling the House, Republicans will control any budget that gets sent to the Senate.  A Democrat majority can\’t assert itself for fear of it killing everything in conference.    Ideally Republican unfund most of the Obama agenda, toss a few scandal grenades at the White House and then call it a day and wait for 2012.

For those of you thinking that\’s an awfully shitty way to want your government to work, I\’d like to point out a couple things.  A stalled Congress is a good Congress.  And historically the economy has always performed it\’s best with a split Congress.  You want economic recovery?  Then you want Republicans throwing monkey-wrenches in every Congressional gear.  Embrace the stalemate!


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T-7 Senate Update

October 27th, 2010 by Kevin

Ok we have a week left to go.  Things are getting very interesting and at the same time very frustrating.  A lead of 5 or 6 points can be eliminated overnite by a sensational news report of something stupid a candidate did.  But in many cases the number of undecided voters is actually very low and these candidates are professionals.  Actually what\’s most frustrating about this stage is that a lot of polling agencies (such as PPP) with well-documented biases (again PPP) play all sorts of silly demographic games to try to engineer the results they want to push their agenda, more on that below, but the point being it makes it hard to get a coherent picture of what\’s going on on the ground without actually being there??  So who\’s up for donating a few grand so I can go on a tour of the country….especially places like Florida and Hawaii??

No? Okay well instead let\’s take a look at where we stand with the US Senate elections.  Notice I\’ve started moving more than a couple states into the safe categories….just not enough time for any fairy tale endings in some of these races.  And I\’m implementing a self-imposed \”no-tossup\” rule….it\’s time to stop getting wishy-washy and \”man up\” as the parlance of our times goes.  So let\’s get started….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Ohio (R), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Connecticut (D), Delaware (D), Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Gillibrand), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

California (D) – Ok polls show Boxer (D) pulling away from Fiorina (R) but the pollsters showing most of that are pollsters I\’ve learned to not trust unless their findings are supported by several more reputable agencies.  So I\’m going to discount most of that.  Besides, would Democrats like Dianne Feinstein be hitting the campaign trail for Boxer if she were really running away with it?? No.  Actually the biggest factor here is entirely non-political. Fiorina has been hospitalized due to an infection as a result of post-breast-cancer surgery, although sounds like the cancer is still in remission (Get Well!).  Okay what\’s the political impact?? Sure Fiorina is losing valuable time in the most critical phase but this has been a high profile race…does anyone really need to see Fiorina to know what she\’s about anymore??? I\’m thinking this may actually be a net-benefit as it eliminates the chance of a potential last minute gaffe and also probably gains her a few sympathy points.  But I don\’t think it\’ll be enough.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Recent polls show Rossi (R) closing on Murray (D) again….and that\’s critical because there is another factor at work here that doesn\’t exist in most other states.  Only in very few places to Washintonians actually go to a polling booth.  Most send in their ballots by mail, so the fact that polls show Rossi closing just as most voters will be mailing in their ballots means something.  And digging into the polls shows they may very likely be overstating Democrat support.   I\’d love to move this back to toss-up, but I can\’t.  Only my eeyorish nature is keeping me from going with Rossi here.  I am fully prepared, and hoping, to be proven wrong here, but without a Herb Brooks-style motivational speech I\’m struggling to believe in miracles.  Hope to take this prediction to \”my fucking grave\”.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – Yeah, I\’m rethinking that \”no toss-ups\” rule.  This races hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 8 months and that\’s not changing.  Voters don\’t appear to like either candidate and that makes the race volatile.  On the other hand, we\’re continuing to see a slight lead by Kirk(R) and some of the demographics are pretty encouraging for Republicans.  Recent polls show progress by Kirk, which I\’d feel better about if there was a reason I can divine for it….I can\’t.  I think I have to give Republicans this one…and it\’s a sweet seat to win.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – Remember when I said I was struggling to believe in miracles?  Well I got over that and if you\’ll permit…..Dude! I think this is happening!  Ok let\’s backtrack, this race is still tight and Reid (D) is no fool…well he is, but not at winning elections.  Reid\’s  support hasn\’t changed much, it\’s Angle\’s (R) that\’s gone up and done.  Now she appears to have passed the \”Crazy\” test, mostly thanks to Reid\’s boneheaded move to debate her.  Since then the trendline has been pretty solidly pro-Angle and there aren\’t many undecideds.  Nevadans have disliked Reid for awhile and I think they\’ve finally decided it\’s time to take him behind the woodshed.  Unless a third-party candidate or the None-of-the-Above option does really well, and there is nothing to even hint at that, I think we\’ll be looking forward to Senator Angle taking Reid\’s seat. Leaning Republican takeover.

West Virginia (D) – Once again the PPP polling agency it playing games with the numbers to try to force a outcome they like.  Despite that, I think this race hasn\’t moved much and Raese (R) owns a slim lead over Manchin (D).  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Remember what I said last week about the impact of mistakes being amplified in these last few weeks?  Well I give you exhibit A, Colorado.  Buck (R) had a small but steady lead over Bennett (D).  Now come reports that Buck refused to prosecute a rape case and a gaffe made during a debate.  There isn\’t time to spin either one, the reset switch has been tripped and now it\’s all even again.  Congrats Buck, you messed up and now it comes down to Get Out The Vote….which probably favors Buck.  But I feel anything but comfortable calling this for Buck.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) – Feingold\’s (D) support hasn\’t changed in almost a year, what has changed is Johnson\’s (R) support.  Around mid-summer Johnson pulled ahead and hasn\’t looked back since.  There is little reason to believe this will be anything other than a fairly comfortable win by the new Senator Johnson. Likely Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Last time polls had tightened significantly, but I could see absolutely no reason for it so I assumed it was just a lapse of sanity by the pollsters.  Just as I suspected, it appears pollsters like PPP we just messing around with their spreads to generate the results they wanted.  Now other agencies are confirming my suspicions, this race hasn\’t budged.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) –It’s pretty tight between Miller (R) and Murkowski (I).  But again, Murkowski is running a write-in campaign.  Just don’t see it happening.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Conway (D) was closing on Paul (R) and then he decided to release his \”Aqua Buddha\” ad about some goofy stuff Rand Paul did in college.  Now there is a time and a place to be a dumbass, and it\’s called college, and Kentuckians appear to agree, as suddenly Paul has a comfortable lead.  It\’s not so much that Conway has lost support but Paul suddenly appears to have gained a bunch….who knew there were so many worshippers of Aqua Buddha??  All kidding aside, Conway overreached with that ad and this is now Paul\’s race.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Blunt (R) is polling above 50% and Carnahan (D) isn\’t gaining.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not much has changed but not quite ready to call this safe. Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Ok this is actually a safe seat now, but the only reason I don\’t list it above is so I can share this with you.  Crist has absolutely lost it.  What else to explain why you interrupt your opponent during a major debate so you can go off on a non sequitur rant, which not only make you look thin-skinned but also gives your opponent the chance to make you look like an inconsiderate boob??  This isn\’t a rookie politician, he\’s the current Governor of Florida.  And what\’s with the \”Welcome to the NFL\” line at the end?  What is that supposed to mean?? I mean besides the obvious meaning; \”I\’m fucking insane, look at me! Whhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….oops I wet myself\”.  Safe Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

\"\"

My past predictions were 49, 48, 48, 47, 47, 48 and 49 and now I\’m predicting 50.  Heartbreak! That puts us one vote short of retaking the Senate, thanks to Gaffemaster Biden. And there are a couple seats in there I\’m not overly comfortable predicting for Republicans.  In fact, both Illinois and Colorado scare me quite a bit.  Save us Aqua Buddha!!! Still if there is a path to 51 for Republicans, it\’s the same as the one I described last week, and that\’s either Washington and California and in both of those, unlike last week, things are looking much better.  Something as simple as bad weather could deliver either one to Republicans and then eureka, Senate Majority Leader DeMint!  Be still my heart!

Still I am not expecting that to happen, and long term it\’s probably best if it does not.  Like I mentioned last week, it\’s not really necessary.  Republicans are all but certain to retake the House.  The Club for Growth does the groundwork and breaks all those races down.  Remember there the magic number is 39….and you get that almost before you even start looking at Toss-Ups and there are a lot of them.  Now the House controls the budget, so they can shut down health care reform and they can prevent further spending orgies by Democrats.

But if they take the majority in the Senate, one thing the Democrats learned is if you have control of both houses of Congress, people expect you to actually do stuff.  But with a President Obama, Republicans wouldn\’t be able to accomplish anything and would probably take the brunt of voter reaction in 2012 when we\’ll probably still be dealing with a stagnant economy.  Where if Democrats retain control of the Senate, they control two of the three branches and are the establishment in voter eyes.  But with a large minority in the Senate and controlling the House, everything stops…. DC becomes the city where nothing ever happens.  That\’s a good thing, plus is sets up Republicans to retake the White House and the Senate in 2012.

So those of you anxiously wondering if the Republicans can retake the Senate, the better question you should be asking is, \”Do we really want them to?\”

NOTE : I\’ll update with any major events between now and November 2nd, and perhaps I\’ll put together final predictions the night before.  We\’ll see.


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T-14 Senate Update

October 20th, 2010 by Kevin

Here\’s the latest in my weekly update of the Senate picture.  Like I said last time, as time gets tight, the impact of gaffes are magnified and a bad debate can make or break a campaign.  Makes it more difficult to call the close races but that\’s my problem isn\’t it?

Last time we looked at the Senate Republicans were starting to catch a lot of breaks and for the first time, even my eeyorish eyes were starting to see the real possibility for a Republican majority in the Senate.  Has the trend continued?? Well….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – The non-witch hasn\’t accomplished anything.  Coons reliably polls above 50% and O\’Donnell can\’t gain traction.  I\’m still willing to put money on this race to any Tea Party folk who are still clinging to the \”She\’s got a chance\” mantra….any takers??? Please??? Safe Democrat retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – Remember when I said the window for DioGuardi (R) had effectively closed??? Well now it\’s been closed, locked, covered up with a steel-reinforced concrete wall. Safe Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – Good news….McMahon (R) has started gaining ground again.  Bad news….it\’s not going to be enough.  Blumenthal (D) remains comfortably above 50%, so even though undecideds are falling to McMahon, he doesn\’t need them anymore.  Tough break for a what could have been a real sweet pickup for Republicans.  Likely Democrat retention.

California (D) – This still remains tight and Boxer (D) is still below 50%.  Problem is Fiorina (R) hasn\’t made up any more ground, even with Boxer sticking her foot in her big mouth every chance she gets.  Ultimately it\’s starting to look like Fiorina has squeezed just about every vote she\’s going to out of California.  If that\’s the case, I hereby officially offer to sell California to Mexico in exchange for two Chipotle burritos.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Pity….all that progress Rossi (R) made has disappeared and then some.  Murray (D) is back in control.  Dammit.  This race is still close but we\’re starting to run out of time here.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – What I feared appears to be taking place.  Kirk (R) has lost the slight lead he had and Giannoulias (D) has taken over the lead.  Now that doesn\’t mean as much as you think, because this race has traded the lead so many times, Illinois is being fitted for a swivel.  This hasn\’t been out of the margin of error in over 7 months.  Problem here is that voters appear to be making this a referendum on the national direction and in Illinois that\’s bad for Republicans.  Toss-Up.

Nevada (D) – Ohh, the sweet sweet air of victory is starting to permeate the air around Nevada!  Ok before we get ahead of ourselves, this race is still insanely close.  However, that\’s about where the good news for Reid (D) stops.  Angle (R) is currently leading, and with the exception of a few liberal pollsters has for awhile.  The voters have also showed an impressive level of certainty in their choices, as there are very few undecideds left and they are tending to go for Angle.  And I imagine that trend will accelerate, or at least continue, especially after the disaster of a debate Angle and Reid had recently.  Reid was awful, and while Angle wasn\’t great, she didn\’t need to be.  She\’s been portrayed by Reid as the Wicked Witch of the West for most of the campaign….during the debate, not only did she make a few rhetorical points, she also looked utterly…..normal.  Never has an entire campaign\’s work so utterly imploded.  Leaning Republican takeover.

West Virginia (D) – Not much has changed here….which is nice, because I think Raese (R) still holds a slim lead over Manchin (D).  Worth keeping an eye on.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) –  Again not much has changed, and again that\’s good for Johnson (R).  Feingold (D) is still polling sub-50% and Johnson retains a comfortable lead.  I\’m not quite ready to move this further but it\’s well on it\’s way.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) –Buck (R) once held a fairly comfortable lead but that has diminished over the past week.  This is effectively a dead heat now but I give the edge to Buck over Bennett (D).  All sides are spending obscene amounts of money on this race so a lot can happen but so far I\’m happy.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) –Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – It\’s pretty tight between Miller (R) and Murkowski (I).  But again, Murkowski is running a write-in campaign.  Just don\’t see it happening.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Paul\’s (R) lead has shrunk but I think he\’s still in safe territory.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Meek hasn\’t dropped out, which pretty much paints a clean path to victory for Rubio (R) and signals the end of Crist\’s (I) political career. Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – Not much has changed here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

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Heartbreak!!  After making the past predictions, 49, 48, 48, 47, 47 and 48, I was starting to think there was a real chance for Republican victory.  Now the inner-Eeyore in my has returned.  Even though I\’m now projecting 49 seats for Republicans.  Problem is the path I saw to 50 is starting to fail.  At this point Republicans need to win Illinois and then they need to flip either California or Washington.  Problem with that path is that Illinois is starting to look pretty dicey for Republicans and both California and Washington are moving in the wrong direction to be flipped.

Oh well.  Like I\’ve said before Republicans are likely to score a huge victory even if they don\’t take the Senate.  After all the House controls spending more than the Senate.  And with such a sizeable minority in the Senate, Republicans can effectively shut down the Senate with filibusters.  Plus it might be better long-term for Republicans to only control one of the three arms of government for 2012.  Perhaps Republicans can repeat their performance in 2012 if they can effectively place blame on Democrat control of Congress and the White House.

But there is still time….not much and things can change greatly.  We\’ll take another look next week.


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T-21 Senate Update

October 12th, 2010 by Kevin

In these last weeks before an election, things can change pretty fast and the impact is magnified.  There isn\’t time to recover from a gaffe and there isn\’t time to spin bad news how you want it to be interpreted.  A shift of just 1 or 2 points could be easily, and rightly, dismissed earlier in the year…now it\’s all it takes for a race to flip.  So we\’ll be doing a weekly look at the Senate as we countdown to the great 2010 Hopenchange Referendum.

Where do we currently stand? Well….

First the safe states….no drama here, no reason to do more than list them.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Remember, note the three Republican pickups right off the bat.  Democrat\’s safe list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – Only reason this isn\’t listed with the safe seats above is because of the drama around it.  But let\’s be realistic, it\’s safe.  Coons by a large margin.  I\’d put money on it.  Safe Democrat retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – Some minor movement here but all in the Democrat\’s favor.  There a very slim opening for Joe DioGuardi (R) to make something happen…that window has effectively closed.  Likely Democrat retention.

California (D) – Not much new here.  Boxer is still in control here….for now.  Good thing here is that this race has become a referendum on Boxer rather than a Fiorina vs Boxer contest.  That\’s good for Fiorina, because the general consensus appears to be that Boxer is an incompetent arrogant do-nothing.  But so far that\’s not translating into enough people flipping.  California may very well be going with the devil they know than the one they don\’t.  This might hinge on dynamics from the Governor\’s race.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – All that progress by McMahon (R) has hit a brick wall.  She had closed the gap and now needed to steal support from Blumenthal (D).  Then they met in debate, and apparently Connecticut voters disagree with my evaluation of her performance because support has shifted to Blumenthal.  On the plus side, McMahon has already scored a big-picture victory, as the DSCC has announced it\’s dumping $500K of ad time into this race.  The fact that the DSCC is spending even a shiny nickel to firewall this race is a victory for Republicans. Leaning Democrat retention.

Nevada (D) – I was pretty pessimistic about this before, mostly because of Nevada\’s \”None of the Above\” option on the ballot.  I feared undecideds were going to remain undecided, which helps out Reid (D).  But now undecideds appear to be very tentatively going for Angle (R).  Not much, but then again there isn\’t much room between these two.   Now Angle is ever so slightly ahead, as all the momentum since September has been Angle\’s way.  This is all horrible news for Reid, he\’s very unpopular in Nevada (even his son has abandoned him) so he needs to go into Election Day with at least a slight lead.  Otherwise undedecided voters may go with the crowd and vote Angle instead of None of the Above.  My gut feeling was wrong last time, I\’m moving this back where it should have been and if nothing changes I\’ll move it even more.  Toss-Up.

Washington (D) – Insert nervously suspenseful theme music here.  This race might have turned the corner.  They had a primary race here, which was basically a dry run for the election.  It didn\’t turn out well for Rossi (R), and, until recently, it hasn\’t moved much from that ever since.  Murray (D) had a huge cash advantage, but Rossi has been gaining slightly.  Murray sought to counter that with an ad blitz and she certainly did.  Problem is they\’ve hit Dino Rossi with everything they can think of.  It\’s evident they\’ve used up the entire toolbox, as their latest ads are repeating old material and it hasn\’t stopped Rossi\’s advance.  In fact, now Rossi is leading ever so slightly in the polls.  Too early to tell how real that lead is and there are two TV debates left.  If Rossi doesn\’t screw up there, this will come down to voter turn out…which is bad for Murray.  This gets upgraded in status.  If those TV debates go well this will change status again. Toss-Up.

Illinois (D) – This race still hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 7 months and it hasn\’t really changed.  Undecideds are starting to break but they are doing so roughly evenly so the net gain is zero.  That works out well for Kirk who appears to be holding onto an ever so slight lead.  However, Kirk needs to gain some more ground here because if the remaining undecideds make this a referendum on the national direction and/or Obama then Giannoulias (D) is going to win.  Toss-Up.

West Virginia (D) – Gov. Manchin (D) is popular in the state but not so popular is the idea of giving Democrats a seat to defend ObamaCare and the rest of the Democrat\’s agenda.  Raese (R) had a slim lead and that lead has been increasing.  It appears as if Machin\’s severe money advantage isn\’t going to help him with the way the dynamics are working out.  Manchin is trying to convince West Virginian\’s that he\’s opposed to ObamaCare, but he has a track record stating otherwise.  Plus even if that\’s the case, he\’s already got a job, that of Governor, where he can effectively fight ObamaCare.  It\’s hard for him to make a case to move him to Washington.  I\’m shifting this one.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Wisconsin (D) – Good news for Feingold (D) is he has stopped the bleeding.  Bad news is Johnson (R) is holding a comfortable lead over him.  There are a couple big debates coming up but Feingold\’s support hasn\’t moved significantly up or down in almost a year and it\’s below 50%.  For a well-known incumbent not only is that bad news but it\’s also hard to change.  Short of a major screw-up by Johnson in those debates this is looking pretty good for Republicans.  I\’m tempted to move this even further right but let\’s get a debate or two behind us first.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – This race has turned into a financial battleground, with both parties investing obscene amounts of money in this race.  But for the most part this race has stabilised with Buck (R) holding a modest lead.  There is a recent poll showing Bennett (D) with a slight lead.  Now that could be the leading edge of a shift in public opinion, however, the polling agency that reported that is well known to have a liberal bias, so I suspect it\’s due more to that than anything concrete.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Undecided voters had started breaking to slightly larger degree towards Sestak (D) but not enough to make up the support gap.  As a result, Toomey (R) holds his steady lead and the race has stabilised.  However, what\’s more telling is the financial moves lately.  The DSCC has withdrawn their ad purchases for this race and Republican groups continue to pour in money.  This is looking pretty safe now.  Likely Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – McAdams (D) is quickly becoming a non-factor in this race.  While it\’s still tight between Miller (R) and Senator Murkowski (I).  But considering that Murkowski is a write-in candidate, unless she opens a serious lead between now and Election Day, I see this being won by Miller. Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) –  Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) –  Democrats are pulling their ad purchases here.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Some drama here as Meek (D) has become a non-factor.  So there are some rumours that Meek may drop out and clear the way for Democrats to go the most liberal candidate that has a chance Crist (I).  Problem with that theory is it hasn\’t happened yet and by now Rubio (R) has such a commanding lead it may not matter.   In fact it may have the opposite effect as the Republicans still supporting Crist may peel away from the defacto Democrat and support Rubio.  Either way, it\’s worth keeping an eye on for any shenanigans but it\’s pretty safe at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – Yeah, nothing new here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what’s the final score??

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Ok at this point I see at least seven seats changing control but two more have moved into the Toss-Up category and in both of them, if trends continue, they\’ll shift to leaning Republican takeover.  So theoretically we soon have nine seats changing hands, which would bring Republicans to 50 seats…with Illinois becoming the tie-breaker.  Wow.

At this point I\’m projected 48 seats for Republicans, with my past predictions being 49, 48, 48, 47 and 47.  But I am seeing the possibility for at least 50 too.

Want to get real excited? Remember how last time I was casting doubt on the whole Republicans retaking the Senate??  And as part of that I projected the most likely path for that to happen?  Well every race I mentioned that had to shift is….well shifting.  That hypothetical path is taking place!  Dude, for the first time I\’m getting a little excited here, this could be happening….that wave may very well crest at above flood stage.

Now we\’re still three weeks out.  All sorts of chances for an October surprise.  Lots of debates still to happen, which open the possibility for gaffes by either candidate.  But remember, I\’ve been denying Republicans had a chance for months.  But now even by my eeyorish viewpoint, I see a very real path to majority here for Republicans.  Not only a path, but a path the country appears to be traveling down.

Plus it\’s hard to resist the temptation that control of the Senate hinges on control of Obama\’s old Senate seat.  Dude, they just don\’t write political drama better!


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Senate Update

October 4th, 2010 by Kevin

Ok I figured it\’s time for another Senate update, because that Republican wave everyone keeps talking about appears to be spreading…a number of states that I had figured to be safe are now in play, or at least interesting.  As this trend seems to be spreading, I think from this point on, I\’m just looking at EVERY state that has a Senate race and that way we\’re not missing anything. Plus we\’ve had a couple primaries that yielded interesting results (Deleware!).

Now someone mentioned I haven\’t looked at the House at all.  Well you\’re right.  And that\’s because the House is well….huge.  It\’s a lot of work digging through polling data and background information for each race….the Senate takes awhile by itself, the House is more than quadruple that work.  And besides, even the Democrats have admitted the House is a lost cause and will be flipping.  So where\’s the excitement?  That\’s right….the Senate.

We\’re still stuck with the eternal question: \”Is the Senate in play?\”  I think the answer has been…..almost.  But Republicans have always been just a couple states short of being able to truly threaten leadership of the Senate.  To recap, the last time I looked at the Senate I made predictions of 49, 48, 48 and 47…in that order.  So let\’s get started….

First the safe states….states where I\’m only including them so I can say I looked at them and my brain instantly started doodling on my liver out of boredom.   The safe Republican states include Alabama (R), Arizona (R), Arkansas (D), Georgia (R), Idaho (R), Indiana (D), Iowa (R), Kansas (R), Louisiana (R), North Carolina (R), North Dakota (D), Oklahoma (R), South Carolina (R), South Dakota (R) and Utah (R).  Notice the three Ds in there….three solid pickups by the Republicans.  Now the Democrats also have some \”safe\” seats as well.  I use scare quotes because that list used to be as long as the Republicans, but it gets shorter every time I look at the Senate.  For now that list is Hawaii (D), Maryland (D), New York (D – Schumer), Oregon (D) and Vermont (D).  Notice the conspicuous lack of Rs in that list.

Delaware (D) – Ok this should have been a safe seat for Republicans.  Now it\’s all but a safe seat for the Democrats.  I\’m not ranking it as that more out of bitterness than anything else.  Fact is the Tea Party overplayed their hand here.  They had a safe Republican seat in one of the most liberal states in the country.  Sure Castle was more moderate than conservative, but on most of the key issues he would have sided with Republicans, instead of Democrat Coons who will side with Republicans on exactly zero issues.  Plus it would have been an additional seat towards that big majority everyone is aiming for.  If the Tea Party was going to throw Republicans in front of the conservative bus, I really wish they would have done it for a solid candidate rather than the incredibly flawed O\’Donnell.  Likely Democrat Retention.

New York (D – Gillibrand) – While New York\’s normal senate race is solidly in Schumer\’s hands, the special election to fill Hillary seat is suddenly worth paying attention to.  Let\’s not be mistaken, the polls are still very much in Gillibrand\’s favor.  However, it\’s also clearly that Republican Joe DioGuardi is quickly making up ground, and the Gillibrand\’s remaining support is very soft and may not actually hold up as Election Day nears.  All that said, this is still a long shot for Republicans and is far from canary-in-the-coal-mine status…if this particular canary keels over, it\’s probably because the entire cave collapsed. Likely Democrat Retention.

California (D) – Again…why do you put me through this??? My heart just can\’t take this.  The land of hippie gumdrops and magical sticky hemp rope swings is actually competitive.  And it\’s for real competitive, not just the \”competitive because it\’s fun to consider the possibilities\”.  There are few California Gurls more entertaining to watch than watching Boxer and Fiorina compete for this seat.  Fiorina has scored some solid hits and Boxer has been botching it so far, but the fact that this is California means this is still Boxer\’s race.  Digging into the demographics I see opportunities for Fiorina.  Even the San Fransisco paper refuses to endorse Boxer.  Everyone seems in agreement that Boxer is an  incompetent arrogant do-nothing.  But it appears as if California voters are tempted with going with the devil they know rather than the devil they don\’t.  But here\’s the real kicker…not only can\’t I rank this as safe Democrat, I can\’t even label it likely Democrat.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Nevada (D) – The Holy Grail of Senate seats.  Let\’s get this right out there….nobody is willing to make any sort of call on this seat and hasn\’t for quite a while, and for very good reason.  Statistically you can\’t get much more tied that these two are.  Multiple polls from multiple sources all showing the same thing, both candidates keep trading a statistically insignificant lead.  Digging into the demographics Read is very unpopular, but Angle is even more unpopular.  The support for both is starting to firm up with Angle\’s support being slightly less firm.  On the issues, Angle is a better match for Nevada voters but she\’s also got a lot of uncomfortable statements she\’s had to explain.  I think Angle\’s biggest problem here is the \”None of the above\” option Nevada voters have on their ballot.  With Reid as unpopular as he is, the fact that Nevada voters haven\’t swarmed to Angle probably means it\’s not going to happen.  Last time I moved this race into the toss-up category and that would be the smart move again.  However, although I have no empirical data to support my rating, I\’m going with my gut on this one.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Connecticut (D) – Another supposedly safe seat that is now in play.  Now Democrat Blumenthal should have been able to retain Dodd\’s seat without much trouble, instead Republican Linda McMahon has steadily closed the gap.  Blumenthal originally enjoyed a lead of 40+ points, now it\’s a statistical dead heat.  While McMahon has never actually lead in a poll so far, the gap is now within the margin of error and the momentum has been in entirely one direction.  The interesting part here is that Blumenthal\’s support has remained very steady, almost all of McMahon\’s gains have been independents falling to her.  Now that she\’s closed the gap she has to accomplish the real trick….chip away at Blumenthal\’s support, because she\’s already captured every free vote otherwise.  Blumenthal is still above 50% in most polls,  so he\’s not in real danger yet but if he doesn\’t stop the bleeding yesterday, this is another very blue state gone red.  In fact, even if this doesn\’t change parties, this is already a strategic victory for Republicans, because Democrats will have to spend limited resources to firewall Connecticut.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Washington (D) – Ok the lead has seesawed between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Senator Patty Murray, but mostly it\’s been Murray in the lead.  Washington already had a dry-run of this race via the primary so it\’s no surprise that there are virtually no undecided voters in this race.  That\’s the bad news, because while the race has closed, Murray has maintained a pretty stable lead lately.  With it being this close, something small could swing it, otherwise I wouldn\’t be as non-committal as I am.  Leaning Democrat retention.

West Virginia (D) – This one snuck up on us, the special election to fill Robert \”KKK\” Byrd\’s seat, previously an easy Democrat victory is now in play.  Which is a bit surprising, as West Virginia is usually a very reliably Democratic state and Gov. Manchin (D) at one point enjoyed a healthy lead, befitting that fact.  Now John Raese has not only closed the gap but surpassed Manchin.  His progress seems to stem less from their love for Manchin, but more from their dislike of Obama\’s agenda and giving Democrats another seat to implement that agenda.  Raese\’s campaign strategy seems to hinge on exactly that.  Problem is Raese has basically blown his entire budget to get to this point.  His campaign now has so little left in the bank he couldn\’t buy a used car.  Meanwhile Manchin has virtually all of his fairly sizeable warchest available to convince the voters why they should send him to Washington.  Now this race is by no means over or even close to over, there are still plenty of avenues to success for Republicans here, but at this point I see too many factors against Raese.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Illinois (D) – Basically we have two flawed candidates here fighting for one Senate seat, and the polling data shows the public knows it.  There are a lot of voters still undecided and what support each candidate has it very soft for this late in the game.  That\’s problematic for forecasting, especially for this seat.  On one hand you have the Democrat\’s corrupt Chicago political machine working for them.  On the other hand, while 2010 in general is a referendum on Obama, the election for Obama\’s former seat definitely is.  Republican Kirk maintains a very slim lead over Democrat Giannoulias, but this race hasn\’t been outside the margin of error in 7 months.  It\’s possible the race may hinge on peripheral issues such as the fact that Giannoulias told voters he quit his family\’s bank before it started imploding, but he told the IRS the opposite….oops.  But in reality I think the voters are already aware they have two D-List candidates to choose from and it\’s more likely to end on a referendum of whether the country is going the right direction….but this is Illinois, and that doesn\’t favor the Repubican Kirk.  Despite my being very pessimistic about this one, we\’ll leave it in the middle for now.  Toss-Up.

Wisconsin (D) – This race got going pretty late so we haven\’t had as much history here as we have elsewhere.  And while I wanted to call this leaning Republican for awhile, I didn\’t really have anything to hang my hat on and it was too soon to start going with gut reactions.  Well now we\’re close enough to do that but luckily I don\’t even have to do that.  The recent gains by Republican Johnson over Democrat Feingold, instead of just being a hiccup in the polls, turned out to be the leading edge of a huge swing towards the right.  Johnson lead has now swung well outside the margin of error and it gets worse from Feingold when you start digging into the demographics.  What support Feingold has is soft and independents have strongly lined up behind Johnson.  In fact digging through the demographics and the issues, it\’s hard to find any silver lining for Feingold, save his current cash-on-hand advantage.  And even that isn\’t likely to last.  Look for donors wanting to build relations with a new member of a strong Republican delegation and national Democrats now have big problems as bluer states are now at risk.  Look for Johnson\’s lead to increase in the next few weeks.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Although Republican Ken Buck has had a small lead ever since the primaries, this race has been close and in doubt for awhile.  Now voters appear to be coming to a consensus on the race, as Buck has opened a lead outside the margin of error over Senator Bennet (D), and he\’s also over 50%.  The real downside of this for Bennet is that there are very few undecided voters at this point.  This is not yet outside recovery for Democrats, but any path to victory is about as steep as the mountains surrounding Denver.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Pennsylvania (D) – Democrats have squealed about the last couple polls that show this race tightening up and they think they see Toomey (R) fading.  At first glance that is an understandable conclusion, but it doesn\’t tell the whole picture.  What\’s actually happening is undecideds are starting to break towards their candidate.  And while Sestak (D) has benefited from that more than Toomey, Toomey doesn\’t have far to go to cross that magical 50% barrier.   Sestak has a lot of ground to make up and digging into the demographics I don\’t see much promise of that happening.  Short of somet October surprise happening, I\’m pretty satisfied with this race.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Alaska (R) – Ok the only reason Alaska isn\’t listed above amongst the solid states above is because it\’s still unclear which Republican will win.  Alaska is a reliably conservative state.  So much so that even with a conservative (Joe Miller) and a pseudo-conservative (Sen. Lisa Murkowski) splitting the Republican vote, the Democrat (Scott McAdams) doesn\’t have a chance.  The polls show Murkowski closing in no Joe Miller but at the end of the day she\’s running a write-in campaign.  Sure some people say they\’ll write in Murkowski, but that actually takes work and I really can\’t see enough doing it that she wins.  I think the actual Republican wins this one.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Democrats are still trying to label Rand Paul (R) as an extremist, and in truth he is quite a bit to the right of what Kentucky voters really are.  However, in this political climate that\’s overshadowed by the fact that his opponent Conway (D) supports the health care bill and Cap&Trade.  Paul has wisely kept the more unusual parts of his ideology in check so he\’s in good shape here.  Likely Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – The only thing that has changed here is the current breakdown of support has solidified.  Blunt (R) has maintained a solid lead over Carnahan (D).  Blunt has gotten over his tendency to commit unforced errors, so it\’s hard to imagine a scenario where this devolves into anything other than where it currently sits.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) – The only reason this was every close is because Hodes (D) is essentially running on the same platform as Ayotte (R), that of fiscal conservatism.  But with his party absolutely hemorrhaging money out of the Treasury in pursuit of a far left agenda, the voters aren\’t exactly receptive to Hodes claims.  It\’s still technically not lost but this is a pretty solid race at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Florida (R) – Last time, I said it appeared that the trend I was hoping to see was beginning.  Namely that Republicans and Democrats both flirted with the idea of voting for Crist (I) but as the election nears, they are returning home.  Last time we looked at this race, it was a little too early to know if this was just a fluke or the leading edge of that trend.  Now it appears pretty obvious my observations were correct.  Crist is now way behind, while both Rubio (R) and Meek (D) have gained.  But Meek is still still way behind Rubio.  Florida has been a little weird this year so it\’s possibly for something to happen, but I can\’t imagine what it would have to be at this point.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) -Portman\’s (R) lead over Fisher (D) here, has absolutely exploded.  Fisher\’s strategy to tie Portman to Bush has absolutely flopped and at this point Portman has such a huge money advantage that any new strategy is damn near pointless.  Fisher is going to need the King of all October surprises here.  Likely Republican retention.

Okay so what\’s the final score??

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Well we have no Republican seats changing control..in fact none are even close.  Which is sort of amazing when you consider what the big picture looked like just a few month ago.  Sure we had lots of Democrat seats in danger and probably switching, but we also had a few Republican seats that looked less than safe, some even in real danger.  Now it\’s pure curiosity that makes me even look at the data anymore to try to imagine scenarios where the seat might be danger.

On the other side, we have an increasing number of Democrat seats in danger.  In fact, every time I\’ve looked at the data, we find another Democrat seat that\’s barreling out of control downward.  Although at this point, I only see six Democrat seats changing hands, thanks to the Tea Party\’s overzealous move in Delaware.  Although on that note I do have to point out to those Castle supporters who are criticizing the Tea Party by claiming that the Tea Party just ruined any chance for Republicans to control the Senate.  Well look at the data.  The Senate still isn\’t in serious danger of flipping, even if Delaware was still in the Republican column.  As it stands right now Republicans will control 47 seats.  Even using Democrat math I can\’t add one (Delaware) and get to 51.  Sure there are a lot of seats that are only leaning Democrat victory, but in most of those the Democrats position has actually improved in the last few months, rather than gotten worse.

Long story short (too late!), I\’m struggling to divine a scenario that results in Republicans taking control of the Senate.  Here\’s the most \”likely\” path….which still comes up short.  The toss-up state of Illinois goes red.  Then Angle pulls out a miracle and defeats Reid.  And then Raese overcomes his severe financial disadvantage in West Virginia.  Now that only brings Republicans to 50….which is still short since Biden casts the deciding vote.  After that it\’s pretty difficult to see a 51st seat.  California?? Delaware?  The most likely one is probably Washington but even with my obvious Republican bias I still struggle to see that happening.

Sorry Senate is out of reach, but with a caucus of 47, Republicans would basically bring Congress to standstill.  Which is really the important part.  Even if Republicans got control, what are you expecting to see happen?? Republicans passing their agenda?? Seriously people, Presidential veto…it exists.  Besides, Republicans are all but certain to control the House, which is the body that control spending anyway.


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Senate Outlook Update

September 3rd, 2010 by Kevin

Ok first of all let me apologize for not writing much lately, I\’ve been busy with a variety of activities that I\’m not going to bore you with.  I especially am thankful for those readers who have stuck by me through the dry spell and in fact have requested a new look at the Senate and if the GOP has a chance of taking it.  Fair enough, quite a few races have changed, so let\’s take another look shall we?

To start, let\’s summarize.  Republicans need to get to 51, right now they are at 41.  The last few times I took a look at the Senate I came up with a final total of 49, 48 and 48, in that chronological order.  It\’s become increasingly popular for pundits to declare the Senate is flipping, can Republicans get to 51?  One way to find out.

First of all, let\’s dispense with the states that were at one point interesting and are now all but decided.  North Dakota (D), Indiana (D) and Arkansas (D) are all currently held by Democrats and by next year will be in Republican hands.  I\’m not going to bore you with the history or the details, but to re-use a favorite hypothetical….the Republican could be caught with a dead hooker and a goat on top of a pile of cocaine and they’d still win in all three.  So let\’s move onto something interesting.  +3 for Republicans

Delaware (D) – Now Delaware should be in the category above, if not for the Tea Party, bless their freedom loving hearts.  The Tea Party has gotten a pretty high opinion of themselves lately, and probably for good reason.  They\’ve ousted a lot of moderate earmarking Republicans already, Alaska being just the most recent.  They\’ve now set their sights on Mike Castle (R) of Delaware.  Now let\’s dispense with the obvious, Castle is very much a moderate, but he\’s also much more conservative than the Democrat, Chris Coons.  And Delaware is not Alaska, or Utah, or Nevada….in fact, Delaware is one of the most liberal states in the country so it would be wise to take a page from the Book of Scott Brown, and be happy with whatever Republican you can get.  Especially if that Republican can absolutely demolish the Democrat in an election, while the more \”pure\” Republican would go down in flames.  Tea Party members, don\’t be stupid, go with Castle.  Should be a solid Republican takeover.

Nevada (D) – Ok I\’ve called this a leaning Republican takeover since the beginning and I\’m starting to reconsider that evaluation.  Reid was definitely vulnerable and this was a golden opportunity for Republicans.  Now to be fair, Sharon Angle is incredibly green and there was a huge learning curve.  And she\’s had multiple chances to make that next step to respectable candidate and it hasn\’t happened.  Reid has had incredible horrific negatives from the beginning, so the fact that voters still haven\’t coalesced around Angle suggests it\’s not going to happen.  And unlike many states Nevada has a third option on their ballot….they have a \”None of the Above\” option, which I am starting to suspect all those people not flocking to Angle are going to take.  The intangibles still favor Angle but it\’s hard to call this for her at this point.  This is a toss-up, unless Angle can get her ass in line and mount a respectable campaign, because this should be an overwhelmingly easy win for Republicans.

Illinois (D) -Again, this should have been sooooo easy.  Instead we have two incredibly flawed candidates competing for a seat currently held by a man that bribed his way into the seat, vacated by one of the most incompetent Presidents in history.  On one hand, Kirk (R) has a huge money advantage and an electorate mood that favors him.  On the other hand, Giannoulias (D) has the potent Democrat political machine churning for him in an corrupt Illinois political scene.  I originally ranked this as a Republican takover, then leaning Republican, then toss-up and the trend continues, I\’m moving this to the leaning Democrat retention….the first of the Holy Trinity Senate seats to do so.  Damn it.

Pennsylvania (D) – Last time I was starting to get a little concerned here, but that hiccup seems to have passed.  We\’re back in pretty safe territory for Toomey (R), who has regained the momentum and is opening his leading on Sestak (D).  Toomey has a huge money advantage, he\’s flirting with a double digit lead in the polls, and the momentum.  Sestak has some serious work ahead of him if he wants to win this, but short of that this is a pretty solid Republican takeover.

Colorado (D) – Well this is easier to analyze now that we finally know who our candidates are.  Senator Bennet (D) survived a strong primary challenge and the Tea Party got their man, Ken Buck (R) in.  Buck polled the best of the two Republicans, but Democrats are happy because they think the GOP has appointed an extremist.  They have some reason to remain positive, Buck is a rookie and he\’s at a severe money disadvantage.  On the other hand, Bennet isn\’t very charismatic and has never run a statewide campaign before.   With an anti-insider attitude amongst voters this favors Buck at this point.  Leaning Republican takeover.

California (D) – Holy hell….how did we get here.  California is competitive….the land of hippie gumdrops and magical sticky hemp rope swings.  Really??  But dammit the data keeps pointing to this actually being close.  This is a statistical deadheat and has been for awhile.  Boxer has lost significant segments of the voters and is polling pretty awful.  But so far Fiorina hasn\’t been able to capitalize.  Plus…..IT\’S CALIFORNIA….Obama is still popular here.  Okay we had our fun and made California a battleground state, can we go back to where things make sense now??  Leaning Democratic retention.

Wisconsin (D) – Ok last time I was pretty sure this was leaning Republican takeover but do to the absolutely lack of any sort of significant and reliable data, I stuck with toss-up.  We\’ve had some time and I was right to be cautious.  Wisconsin\’s economy is pretty awful and they are ripe for change.  But Feingold (D) is a smart politician and he knows what he needs to do to survive, plus he has a huge money advantage over all of his potential Republican opponents (primary on Sept 14th).  I\’m keeping this one a toss-up, I just haven\’t seen either one make any major progress.

Washington (D) – The primary confirmed this race is REALLY close, but basically the intangibles still favor Murray (D).  Anything could still happen but this is a blue state, it\’s gotten bluer and the power of incumbency prevails here I think.  Every once in awhile conservatives get excited when Rossi (R) pulls ahead in the polls, but the next four polls show Murray in the lead.  And I suspect that will remain the case all the way to November.  Leaning Democrat retention.

Florida (R) – It\’s too early to say for sure, but it looks like the trend I was hoping to see is beginning.  Independents, Democrats and Republicans all flirted with voting for Crist, but as the election gets closer, Republicans and Democrats are returning home.  Crist has shown all signs of caucusing with the Democrats if he wins, look for that to work against him at the weeks go on.  This is seat is still in danger, but it\’s starting to lean Republican retention.  I\’d like to see a couple more polls confirming that trend isn\’t just a fluke.

Alaska (R) – This really has no place on this list but with Miller knocking of Murkowski, things have changed quite a bit.  Miller is only leading by 6 points, he was up by 8 a week ago…..in Alaska.  There is a very real concern that he won\’t be accepted by the voters.  At this point, it\’s more than likely these poll results are just residual bitterness from Murkowski supporters, who\’ll eventually fall in line.  Look for Miller\’s lead to increase in the future, otherwise Alaska becomes a permanent part of this list.  Likely Republican retention.

Ohio (R) – The Democrats strategy here was clearly to capitalize on Portman\’s (R) ties with Bush.  But Bush\’s stock his risen in the past few months, although not as fast as Obama\’s has fallen.  It\’s probably not a coincidence that the race is also starting to separate, with Portman opening a respectable gap against Fisher (D).  Portman has a 5:1 advantage in cash and Bush is no longer the albatross he used to be, or at least not enough to counteract the building Republican wave.  Likely Republican retention.

Kentucky (R) – Rand Paul (R) continues to hold his respectable lead and he\’s managed to keep the more unusual parts of his ideology in check.  Moreover his opponent, Conway (D), had to make some pretty bad public commitments to health care and cap&trade to make it past the primary.  That\’s going to hurt.  On the other hand, Democrats are going to try to nail Paul on his opposition to federal handouts which keep Kentucky afloat.  If he can avoid a stumble there this race is done.  Republican retention.

Missouri (R) – So far Blunt\’s (R) biggest problem is himself, his campaign has stumbled over and over, including a number of unforced errors.  The mood of the Missouri voters should work against Carnahan (D) but she\’s proven to a be a top-notch candidate, who could probably keep the race close without Blunt\’s help.  That said, Blunt appears to be pulling it together and the winning coalition that Carnahan needed doesn\’t appear to be developing.  Likely Republican retention.

New Hampshire (R) -There was the potential for something interesting to happen, it didn\’t….now Ayotte (R) is solidly in control of this race over Hodes (D).  Republican retention.

End result? Well there are two toss-ups (Nevada and Wisconsin) but right now I see Republicans taking six Democrat seats and losing none of their own.  That gives Republicans 47, still well short of gaining the majority.  Although to be fair, there is still a very real path to majority for Republicans.  Both the toss-ups have to fall to Republicans, which isn\’t unlikely at all, and Republicans have to regain the advantage in Illinois, which there is no reason to believe they can\’t do.

But just because it\’s possible, doesn\’t mean it\’s going to happen, and right now I don\’t see anything to indicate it will.  Lots of opportunities, but so far just out of reach.


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Dayton Already Running From His Past

August 11th, 2010 by Kevin

Well the DFL finally figured out who their candidate is for Governor, and they picked Mark Dayton.  Also know as \”The Blunderer\”….seriously, that\’s what Time magazine called him back when he was in the Senate…they also called him the worst Senator in America.  In response to winning the primary, Mark Dayton got so excited he promptly closed his campaign office for a month.

Well the MN GOP promptly released an ad introducing the new DFL nominee to Minnesota.  That shouldn\’t be a surprise, we\’ve been seeing Mark Dayton\’s family spending millions on anti-Emmer ads for weeks now.  But now the MN GOP is finally answering back with an ad that scored an A- on the KSTP Truth Test….unlike the famous anti-Emmer ad by Alliance for a Better Minnesota (aka Dayton family front group) which scored an F.

Of course Dayton is denouncing this as a smear….not sure what part of quoting past news articles about him, he considers smearing.  Sounds like Dayton is already starting a pattern of running from his past.  And when it\’s pretty true that past performance predicts future performance, that\’s not good for Minnesota.


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Can The GOP Retake The Senate?

July 16th, 2010 by Kevin

Gibb\’s admission that the Republicans may very well take over the majority in the the House has re-aligned all the talk about the upcoming election.  Mostly it\’s renewed talk about whether Republicans can retake the Senate.  It\’s a topic I\’ve covered several times before.  Republicans need to get to 51 seats, but the last two times we looked at how things were trending, we came up with 49 and 48.  Have things improved?

Well let\’s take a look at some of the more interesting races.  We\’ll start with those currently held by Democrats…

North Dakota – Republican Hoeven is beating Democrat Potter almost 4 to 1 in the polls.  Potter should count it as a moral victory if he can break 20% in the election…and the way the polls are looking I\’m not sure he can accomplish that.  Solid Republican takeover.

Indiana – This race stopped being interesting a long time ago and it\’s gotten even less interesting as Democrats Ellsworth falls further and further behind.  At this point Republican Coats could be caught with a dead hooker and a goat on top of a pile of cocaine and he\’d still win.  Solid Republican takeover.

Arkansas – The interesting part of this race is long in the past, namely the primary which would determine how Blanche Lincoln was going to be given the pink slip.  Now this race is just plain boring.  Democrat Halter never had a chance.  Even the scenario I described regarding Coats of Indiana wouldn\’t put this race in question.  Solid Republican takeover.

Delaware – I promise…this is the last blowout.  Last two times I offered to put money on this election, Republican Castle over Democrats Coons….now I\’ll give you 2:1 odds. Solid Republican takeover.

Nevada – The NRA\’s favorite candidate is make a race out of this as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defends his seat.  The dynamics of this race has definitely changed.  While most of Nevada already really disliked Reid, now a large plurality also really dislike Sharon Angle.  However, at the end of the day the voters have to pick one or the other and the public breakdown on the issues favors Angle more than it does Reid.  Nevada voters think the economy stink, that the stimulus didn\’t do crap, they want the health care law repealed and they think Arizona\’s new immigration law is a pretty good idea that they wouldn\’t mind trying in their own state.  Plus Reid has made several high profile gaffes lately, including his much lampooned claim that there are no illegal workers in Nevada.  Then a deceased Mormon woman, a key constituency for Reid, slammed him in her obituary.  There is reason to be concerned about this effectively-tied race….but I think in the end Angle pulls this out.  Leaning Republican takeover.

Illinois – Uh oh, this race is quickly falling apart.  While Democrat Giannoulias\’s support hasn\’t increased, Republican Kirk\’s has fallen, and in every possible category these two are tied.  Both candidates have flaws dragging them down.  Giannoulias is part of the corrupt Illinois political culture and Kirk has made false claims about his military record.  Illinois voters are pretty much split on the issues, although they very slightly favor Kirk.  On the other hand Obama is still popular here which favors Giannoulias.  Each candidate has the support of their parties voters and most of the independents fall Kirk\’s way…but there is a large plurality of independents that are still uncommitted.  The Holy Trinity for Republicans is at risk in Illinois….this race is entirely a toss-up.

Pennsylvania – Ok this race has closed a bit since we last took a look and yes there is reason to be concerned.  Now that I\’ve given the disclaimer, this is still looking favorable for the GOP.  Republican Toomey\’s support has never left the mid-40s, while Democrat Sestak has gone from the mid-30s to the mid-40s….although the higher numbers were mostly the result of his primary win and have since tapered off.  The breakdown on the issues remain pretty challenging for Sestak, especially the filing of the lawsuit against Arizona.  This race is closer than is preferred but it still leans Republican takeover.

Colorado – Well this race is turning out pretty interesting, especially considering it appeared to be one of the more boring races a few months ago.  Now both Republicans and Democrats have competitive primary battles.  Lt Gov Jane Norton has been the presumptive Republican candidate for awhile, but now the Tea Party candidate Ken Buck is capitalizing on Norton\’s reputation as the establishment candidate.  Meanwhile Democrats Andrew Romanoff and Michael Bennet are still in a virtual dead heat.  The way things have changed is actually pretty nice for Republicans as Ken Buck polls better against both Democrats.  Until the August 10th primary, there are still too many variables here to make too confident of a prediction, but it\’s tentatively leaning Republican at this point.

California – Really?? This seat actually appears to be in play?? I\’ve fought that perception for months but it\’s hard to continue to ignore polling data.  Latest polls show this a statistically dead heat.  In fact, Republican Fiorina is leading in recent polls over bat-shit crazy Boxer.   Ok we got that out of the way, but let\’s keep our perspective, this is still hippy-land people.  Obama is still popular here of all things, although they are split on health care and immigration.  I\’ll throw you a bone here, and upgrade this to leans Democrat retention but that\’s it.

Wisconsin – Ok this race is basically just starting.  Last we looked Republican Johnson was fresh into the race and there was no polling history.  I gave Democrat Feingold the nod although there were areas where Johnson could gain ground and damned if the guy hasn\’t.  Realistically this race is a deadheat, but perhaps the most telling about just how desperate Feingold is becoming is that he\’s running TV ads claiming to be a political outsider….despite being in the Senate since 1993….17 years folks.  Technically Johnson still have a primary to pass but he\’s a pretty solid choice for that not much to worry about short of it sucking up resources.  Speaking of resources Johnson has raised $557,774 since mid-MAY…..that\’s impressive for a candidate nobody heard of 3 months ago.  Independents break pretty solid for Johnson and half of Wisconsinites say the economy sucks balls.  They hate the health care bill, the love the Arizona law and they think the stimulus plan was a waste of money.  Despite the close polling, all the factors are breaking Johnson\’s way….although he\’s still new and a political novice.  This seat has gone from Democrat retention to toss-up and the only thing keeping me from calling this leaning Republican takeover is that there is still very little polling history to work with here.  This is a toss-up….for now.

Washington -Democrat Senator Patty Murray has been statistically tied with Republican Dino Rossi.  This state is a pretty familiar story.  Position on the issues generally favors Rossi and so does the breakdown of independents but I still have to give this one to Murray.  Washington is a blue state and Murray\’s incumbency trumps Rossi\’s close polling.  Although this race is ripe for change, and has been for months…that\’s the problem, it hasn\’t.  Even in this year I have to give this one a leaning Democrat retention.

And now the Republican held seats….

Florida – Frigging Crist….this should be an easy Republican win but now it\’s interesting.  Democrat Meeks is out of the picture, but billionaire Jeff Greene is trying to muscle his way in as the Democrat candidate.  Oddly enough, he\’s probably Rubio\’s best strategy for a win, because if Democrats don\’t have a viable candidate they are likely to fall to Crist and give him the win.  The demographics here are really very interesting.  Rubio takes most Republican but some still side with Crist.  Meanwhile Democrats are split between Crist and their candidate.  Rubio has a slim lead in the polls but everything has been very fluid and I suspect it all hinges on where the Democrats go, Crist or Greene?  Either Rubiou or Crist is going to win this but the question for Crist is who does he caucus with?  Former Republican who has been drifting left.  Let\’s call this a toss-up.

Ohio – Ohio is living up to it\’s name as a purple state.  Everything about this says toss-up.  Polling has NEVER left the margin of error and it\’s gone back and forth.  The breakdown on the issues strong favors \”Hells if I know\”.  There are a couple factors favoring Republican Porter against Democrat Fisher but they get lost in the mash of evenly split everything else.  I\’m not even confident enough in anything to call this a toss-up as either outcome is just as likely as the reanimated corpse of Walt Disney moving to Ohio and winning.

Kentucky – Okay feeling a little more confident here.  Republican Rand Paul has stopped the bleeding and is maintaining a very modest lead over Democrat Jack Conway.  Both the demographics and the breakdown on the issues heavily favors Paul.  And this race has calmed down to sub-circus magnitude which favors the candidate with the lead.  I was very concerned with this race earlier, now I\’m fairly confident in calling this leaning Republican retention.

Missouri – This race is similar to Kentucky while being very different.  Sure Republican Blunt holds a modest lead over Democrat Carnahan.  And the breakdown of the issues and the demographics favor Blunt.  That said the passion index favors Carnahan and Blunt\’s polling shows vulnerability.  Calling this a toss-up.

New Hampshire -  I had some initial concerns about this race but it seems to be working itself out.  Republican Ayotte now has a two-digit lead on Democrat Hodes and most of the factors favor her.  Ayotte is facing a bit of a scandal in the form of a mortgage fraud case that happened while she was Attorney General, and she didn\’t handle questions about it very well.  That said she\’s pretty solidly ahead in the polling.  Besides even her GOP primary opponents are beating Hodes at this point….so even if she dropped back one of them would likely beat Hodes.  Calling this one likely Republican retention.

North Carolina – I included this state in my last analysis because Senator Burr was showing weakness.  That hiccup appears to have passed and he\’s solidly in control again.  Republican retention.

Where\’s that bring us?

Well of the Republican seats they are either toss-ups or Republican retentions….so it\’s unlikely Republican lose any ground.  Democrats on the other hand have 59 seats (including 2 Independents) currently so they can lose 9 and still control the Senate and I still don\’t see a viable path for that to happen.  They definitely lose Arkansas, Delaware, North Dakota and Indiana and they likely lose Pennsylvania and Nevada.  That\’s six seats, even if Colorado falls that\’s only seven….three short of what Republicans need.

Realistically, at this point I see the Senate breakdown as 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans.  Still that\’s not bad.  It means Democrats can\’t force their agenda through just by flipping either the Maine sisters and/or Scott Brown.  They have to deal honestly with Republicans and have to engage them at the very beginning of writing the legislative language….which means no more exhausting and potentially damaging rearguard action for the Republicans, although they have performed admirably in that regard!

End result, Senate is still not in play.

[Crossposted at True North]


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Did Obama Flip A Catch-22?

July 15th, 2010 by Kevin

Obama has had a rough week already, and that\’s not even including his golf game.  His Democrat Governors are openly questioning the wisdom of his lawsuit against Arizona.  Normally safe Democrats are now in trouble.  And the worst, for our narcissistic President, now even Democrat-friendly poll agencies are showing Obama deep underwater amongst the public.

Part of Obama\’s problem is he\’s caught in a Catch-22 of his own rhetoric.  The economy, unemployment and overspending are dragging down his poll numbers which limits his ability to be an effective at pushing his agenda.  On the economy and unemployment he can\’t talk up even the smallest bits of good news, lest he appear out of touch to a hurting American public.  And he can\’t cut spending because his lofty promises of being everything to everyone during the campaign require massive amounts of it.  As long as this election is a referendum on his performance, Democrats chances of salvaging even a moral victory from 2010 are almost non-existent.  Which is why White House press secretary Robert Gibb\’s recent statements that Republicans could take the House is political strategy at it\’s best.

MR. GIBBS:  I think there\’s no doubt that there are a lot of seats that will be up, a lot of contested seats.  I think people are going to have a choice to make in the fall.  But I think there\’s no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control.  There\’s no doubt about that. This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats.

There are two things being done here.  First, and as subtle as a flying brick, this is a challenge to Democrats nationwide….quit sulking and get working.  You can\’t just accept a GOP wave, you\’re going to have to fight and make them earn it.  But more importantly this was a very clever move to reframe this next election.  By pushing the \”Republicans could be in control\” point, Gibbs is no longer making this about Obama.  Now this is a referendum on Republicans vs Democrats.  This is an attempt to exploit the one silver lining that Democrats have in established polling data.

If there are two things that the polling data has repeatedly shown it\’s that Obama\’s as popular as vuvuzela at a wedding ceremony.  But it\’s also shown that Republicans are almost as unpopular.  It\’s not that the public has fallen in love with the GOP, they\’ve called a hex on both houses.  The GOP hasn\’t done anything to deserve a electoral tidal wave, they\’re simply in the right place at the right time.  Obama and the Democrats overpromised and overreached and the GOP is there to benefit from the wreckage, but only because they are the least ugly of the stepsisters.

Making this election about Obama is a guaranteed loser for the Democrats.  But by making this about who the public trusts most, Democrats or Republicans, suddenly it\’s not so bad.  Sure Democrats are just as unpopular as Republicans, but their popularity falls within the margin of error on most polls.  In a political climate like this, campaigning to a draw is a unbelievable coup for the Democrats.  And if they can frame this election as who the public trusts more, that\’s effectively what they\’ll do.

Republicans have long been expected to retake the House and the talking heads have even begun to seriously speculate about the GOP retaking the Senate, which I\’ll touch on again tomorrow.  But if this ploy to reframe the election works, you can forget all that, and Democrats remain in control of both.

[Crossposted at True North]


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